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  • Objects of VenerationSc u lp ture & Paintings from Gandhara, Burma,

    K hmer, Ceylon, India & Tibet

  • +(44) 207 839 8200 joost van den bergh

  • Objects of Veneration Sculpture & Paintings from Gandhara, Burma, Khmer, Ceylon, India & Tibet

  • 4

    01 White Marble Ganesh

    The elephant-headed god Ganesha is one of

    the best known and loved deities in the Hindu

    pantheon of gods. As the son of Parvati and

    Shiva, he is one of the most widely worshipped.

    Whilst his image is found throughout India,

    devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and ex-

    tends to Jains, Buddhists and beyond India. He

    is revered as the Remover of Obstacles, provid-

    er of good fortune, prosperity and success and

    is also patron of arts and sciences and the deva

    of intellect and wisdom. He is honoured at the

    start of rituals and ceremonies and invoked as

    Patron of Letters during writing sessions.

    This marble Ganesh dates back to the Hindu

    Shahi/post Gupta Period and comes from the

    area of present day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Between 4th 7th centuries this region saw

    successive occupations by the Central Asian

    White Huns and other foreigners including the

    Turki, Shahis and later by the Hindu Shahis.

    During the post Gupta period from the 7th

    -9th centuries there is evidence of the peaceful

    coexistence of Hinduism and Buddhism under

    Shahi rule which is reflected in the stylistic

    attributes of the sculptures from this period.

    Drawing inspiration from post Gandharan,

    Gupta, and Kashmiri sculptural styles, Hindu

    Shahi sculpture combines the monumental

    presence of early Gandharan, with the soft

    roundness of Gupta and some of the broad facial

    features seen in Kashmiri sculpture.

    Hindu Shahi/ Post Gupta Period

    Pakistan/ Afghanistan (Punjab Hills)

    mid ninth century

    Height: 47.5 cm; 18 inches

    Provenance: private collection, USA

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    02 Stucco head of Buddha Shakyamuni

    This larger than life-size stucco head of Buddha originates

    from the Gandhara region, the area that is present-day

    Afghanistan-Pakistan. The sensitive modelling of this head is

    distinguished by great attention to detail, this was achieved

    by working in stucco, giving it a more expressive quality

    compared to the formal, somewhat harder, images in stone.

    The technique of stucco was an invention of the late

    Hellenistic period in Alexandria, where gypsum was first

    used as a cheaper substitute for marble. As trade relations

    with the Roman West intensified in the early first century,

    the technique spread from there to Iran and India. Heads

    of statues were constructed on a rough core of lime plaster

    mixed with straw and small stones, which was then covered

    with an outer layer of finer stucco for the modelling of the

    features and hair.

    Pakistan, ancient region of Gandhara,

    circa 4th century

    Height: 52 cm; 20 inches

    Provenance: private collection, Japan

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    03 Carved ivory figure representing Saint Sebastian

    Sebastian, shown here flanked by a dog, was a Roman

    centurion who was discovered to be a Christian and was

    therefore sentenced to death by Emperor Diocletian. He was

    bound to a stake and shot with arrows. He was left for dead,

    although the arrows had not killed him so he was eventually

    stoned to death. The delicate features and the fine carving

    of this Saint Sebastian are typical of Christian ivories made

    in Goa when it was under Portuguese rule. Goa was initially

    conquered in 1510 by Alfonso de Albuquerque (c. 1453 - 1515)

    during the reign of Manuel I of Portugal, and re-conquered in

    1512. Although Portugals interest was mainly in trade and to

    establish trade routes, the Christian settlers and missionaries

    were keen also to convert the native populace to Christianity,

    and from the 16th century onwards they built numerous

    churches. Ivory was already a popular medium used by local

    craftsmen to produce Buddhist and Hindu images, and these

    same craftsmen were consequently commissioned to produce

    Christian imagery. A number of these carvings were made for

    export but the majority was intended for domestic use.

    Indo-portuguese, Goa, 17th18th century

    Height: 20.5 cm, 8 inches

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    04 Bronze king and queen

    Si Lanka, circa 1920

    Height of king: 17 cm, 6 inches

    Height of queen: 13 cm, 5 inches

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    05 A carved wood warrior

    India, Tamil Nadu, 17th18th Century.

    Height: 81 cm, 31 inches

    Width: 23 cm, 9 inches

    Provenance: Burton Stein Collection

    Exhibited and published:

    Living Wood: Sculptural Traditions of

    Southern India Whitechapel Gallery,

    1992, p.164

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    06 Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera

    The attribution to Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera is

    based on a watercolour by Jan Brandes in the Rijksmuseum,

    Amsterdam. This watercolour depicts the meeting in

    November 1785 between the diplomatic representatives of

    Kandy with the Dutch Governor Willem Jacob van de Graaff

    (17371804). Also depicted in the watercolour is a group of

    high-ranking VOC officials. Centrally placed in Brandess

    watercolour is the Modlia or official interpreter to the VOC,

    Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera. A further watercolour

    by Brandes, also in the Rijksmuseum, shows another portrait

    of Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera.

    Ivory with traces of pigment and gilding

    Kandy, Sri Lanka, 18th century

    Height: 22 cm, 8 inches

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    07 Sandstone torso of Vishnu

    This 7th century carved sandstone torso of a deity

    is identified as the Hindu god Vishnu, preserver of

    the cosmos who assumes many forms, or avatars.

    It originates from Phnom Da located in the Angkor

    Borei district of southern Cambodia. Stylistically this

    torso is comparable to sculpture produced prior to

    the establishment of the Khmer capital at Angkor in

    the early ninth century.

    Phnom Da is located in the Angkor Borei district,

    Takeo province, of southern Cambodia. The earliest

    archaeological material from this site, dating from

    about 400 BC, contains the first known Khmer

    inscriptions as well as the earliest tradition of Khmer

    sculpture. Today the hill of Phnom Da contains

    an 11th Century temple, built on the site of a 6th

    century temple from the Funan period, built by king

    Rutravarman. The oldest stone sculptures, found

    in cave temples, depict both Hindu and Buddhist

    divinities were made of single blocks of fine-grained

    sandstone and date to the sixth century.

    Khmer, pre Angkor Phnom Da Mekong delta,

    7th Century

    Height: 44 cm, 17 inches

    width: 25 cm, 9 inches

    Provenance: private collection, UK

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    08 Ivory Madonna and child

    For centuries Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was influenced by

    the artistic and cultural traditions of South India.

    Through trade with the Portuguese, ivory became

    highly valued in Europe from the sixteenth century.

    A Portuguese observer, Garcia da Orto, writing at

    this time, stated that ivory was used for ...caskets,

    combs and many other things. Ivory was principally

    imported from Africa. Ivory from Sri Lanka and

    Sumatra was valued because it did not become

    yellow, which Indian ivory tended to do.

    Sri Lanka, circa 17th century.

    Height: 20.5 cm, 8 inches

  • 24

    09 Ivory figure of the crucified Christ

    In 1543 the Philippines became part of The Spanish

    Empire as a colony, which lasted over 300 years.

    The Spanish introduced Christianity to their colonies

    and arte-facts for worship where commissioned

    locally. Ivory carving was one of the techniques

    introduced to the Philippines in order to produce

    carvings of various Christian iconographies. Ivory

    figures produced in the Philippines not only catered

    to local use, but were also produced to export to

    Latin America and Europe. Originally this ivory Christ

    would probably have been adorned with a metal

    loincloth and crown.

    Hispano-Philippines 17th18th century

    Height: 20.5 cm, 8 inches

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    10 Bronze standing Buddha Shakyamuni

    The rippling design of the Buddhas robe gives the

    impression of falling water and is a typical sculptural

    innovation from the Kandyan period. It gives a sense

    of motion to the otherwise static figure. The city of

    Kandy is situated in the hills of the Kandy Valley in

    Central Sri Lanka. In 1592 Kandy became the capital

    city of the last remaining independent kingdom in

    the island, while the coasts where dominated by the

    Portuguese and the Dutch from 1505 to 1815.

    It was during this period that Sri Lanka witnessed a

    Buddhist revival under the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasimha

    (1747-1782), resulting in an increase in demand for

    images of the Buddha, made in both ivory and bronze.

    Sri Lanka, Kandy period, 18th century

    Height: 19 cm, 7 inches

  • 28

    11 Krishna Venugopala

    An exceptionally large figure of Krishna Venugopala

    made in zinc and gold inlay.

    Krishna is a manifestation o